The Gratitude Express: Things that have made me happy this week

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This last week has been one of those very mixed weeks, where I’ve had days that have been, frankly, crap, and others where I’ve been ‘woohoo’! The crap has been getting over a sick bug from last weekend (not pretty) and catching up on life-admin, plus dealing with a sudden burst of ‘Threenager’ behaviour after we thought we were over the worst. Nothing like preschoolers to keep you on your toes eh?!Adam also has had a recurring problem with his hip that has been exacerbated by all the football he does, and this week was told he will need a hip-op come the New Year which is worrying :-( BUT, lots of good stuff has happened too, and when you’ve had a week where the bad stuff is in danger of overtaking the good, it pays to plug away at remembering the good and to woman-up- life in general is great, we really can’t complain too much!

Here are things that I’ve loved this week:

1. I can’t not put this one first- I have a new job! It’s as social media manager of a local company, and what’s great is I can work from home and manage the hours to suit me. It really is a dream part-time job, and I’m excited to get stuck in as they’re giving me freedom to make the role my own and work with them to devise a strategy. I can’t wait!

2. My dad came to stay this weekend and we all enjoyed a lovely lunch out on Saturday. He’s so good with the children, and really funny- their favourite story books often have bits ‘changed’ by him – F & S get really indignant!

3. We had the children re-tested for their food intolerances, after following the advised 3 months of cutting out cow dairy (both), oranges (Freddie) and cherries (Sasha!). The good news is they are no longer coming up as intolerant to cow dairy now it’s out of their system, and Freddie’s bad eczema has pretty much disappeared.  Whilst we’re going to carry on their largely dairy-free diet, it means that they can have the odd treat/meal with it in every now and again, or food at a party. As long as we don’t overload on the dairy, their skin should be okay. This is such a big thing, as Freddie in particular had such sore skin, and we were putting cream on him nearly every day. Now we count on one hand the number of times in 3 months that he’s needed some on him. Result!

4. I’ve agreed some blog work with a big interiors/homeware brand that I LOVE, and can’t wait to receive what they’re sending me to review!

5. We ordered new sofas a few weeks ago, and they’re not due to arrive with us until November. I got a phone call a few days ago saying that our main sofa should be here this week, and the other chair the week after. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve been wanting rid of our current sofas for AGES now, so this is great news. It’s the little things, right?!

6. I thoroughly enjoyed the tastiest slice of Italian baked cheesecake at the weekend- I could eat the stuff all day, every day!

7. My shop will be enjoying a boost as I sourced some beautiful new bowls and plates- hoping potential customers will love them.

8. I took Sasha to the Horiman Museum in Forest Hill on Thursday and had such a lovely time with my little lady. There is a small aquarium, natural history and nature section with loads to look at, and some gorgeous grounds to walk in. Oh, and a fab cafe where I enjoyed nearly an hour of reading the newspaper and scoffing a cream tea whilst she had a rare nap in the buggy. This NEVER happens anymore so I definitely made the most of it!

9. Researching potential honeymoon destinations. We were nearly swayed by Iceland, but I think we’re going to go for a few days in Venice now instead (more romantic we think!). If anyone has any tips or hotel recommendations, it would be really appreciated.

10. Having my hair done and a new fringe cut in- it’s amazing how a new hair do can really perk up your week!

11. Celebrating a month off the sauce and feeling great for it. I’m sure I will write a post soon about this in more detail, but I’m already feeling the benefits of clearer skin, better sleep and more energy. Long may I continue (although it has been tricky at times!).

and finally…

12. A brilliant, sunny Sunday with our two little tinkers. After a couple of shouty days from me during the week where I was trying to juggle too much and not focusing properly on the children, resulting in tears all round, the weekend has been great. We went leaf-kicking, went for cake at a cafe, played outside, did puzzles together and read loads of books. The TV didn’t come on once and we were all better for it and for spending some quality time together. Amen to more days like this!

What have you enjoyed this week?

Linking up with Katie and The Ordinary Moments

30 Day Re-use & Recycle Wardrobe Challenge – Day 12

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Fake-fur coat – Camden Market, Baby pink fine knit top – TopShop, Jeans – Topshop ‘Leigh’, Trainers – Nike, Glasses – Orla Kiely 

For the original rules for the wardrobe challenge, please click here!

30 Day Re-use & Recycle Wardrobe Challenge – Day 11

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Cape – ASOS, Sweater – Zara, Stretch Jeans – Zara, Biker Boots – New Look, Hat – my Nan’s!

For the full rules of the challenge, click here!

Interiors- Our House Renovation: Kitchen Tour!

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When we first looked around our now-house nearly 3 years ago, it was, to put it politely, in need of a bit of TLC and a serious makeover. You may have read my previous post regarding the grim bathroom, and the kitchen/diner situation wasn’t much better. There was a rather sad separate dining room, with rusty back doors, ultra-stained carpet and 70s stone-clad fireplace. Next door to this was a small galley kitchen, with, to be fair, livable work units, but no cooker, wonky tiles, and barely any space to swing a cat. Not entirely practical with a crawling baby and another one on the way. My condition to Adam on looking at this place was that I’d only consider it if we could crack on and do the necessary work right away- probably slightly insane to be undertaking major building work when you’re 7 months pregnant but hey ho! A pregnant lady knows what she wants and isn’t to be messed with, right?! I blame a serous case of nesting and the need for order.

We wanted to knock through the main supporting wall from kitchen to dining room to create one big functional living space. It was always my dream to have a big area where we could cook, eat and entertain, and where our children could play and create. So… to achieve this we moved out for 3 months to live with my in-laws (cheers guys!) whilst the renovation took place. The work was only supposed to take 6 weeks (ha!), but ended up taking over double that time, meaning that Sasha was born whilst we were in our temporary home. Trekking back and forth to a building site, getting more and more irritated with the delay, first with a baby and massive bump, then with a toddler and newborn, to oversee the work wasn’t much fun, but, you know what? We’re lucky to be able to do this, and I feel all the faffing about was worth it in the end.

The kitchen is definitely one of my favourite spaces within our home. I love how bright and airy it is, what with the white walls and south-facing aspect, and that the new back doors open out wide onto our decking and garden, meaning the children can come and go whilst I’m whipping up something in the kitchen.

Come and have a look around…

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^^Our table and chairs are from Ikea, and I love the table as it expands to make seating for 8 people. Perfect for when we’ve hosted big dinners and Christmas at ours! The booster seats are cheapo ones from Amazon, and I actually quite like the fact there are 2 of them now, I think they add a lovely pop of colour in an otherwise white room. The wooden dresser in the background was bought for £50 from a local charity furniture shop- total bargain and they delivered it to us as well! I was going to paint it white but I changed my mind and decided that I quite liked the wood-effect and the homely feel.

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^^The dresser is home to a variety of personal items. Whilst I don’t like too much clutter, I don’t think I could ever be a total minimalist, as I like to see the bits and bobs that remind me of past adventures, or that have personal meaning to us. The above crockery set used to be Adam’s Nan’s, and is something that I would never sell in my shop! We use it a fair bit, and I just love the print.

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^^On another shelf is my favourite Bush radio, plus travel guides to places we’ve been before.

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^^In the cupboard of the dresser is a few of the children’s smaller puzzles and games, plus a few craft essentials (you can never have too much Playdoh, apparently). Most of our craft stuff is stored in our utility room outside, but it’s useful to have a few bits and bobs handy. Also here is my basic sewing kit and sewing machine (boy, do we need to get reacquainted again!), and some Crimbo-style booze. I’m sure if a craft and booze cupboard is quite the done thing, but hey, it works for us. :-)

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^^In the other alcove is some chunky white shelves that we had added (thanks, Mark), and then painted white. I knew when we first moved in that I wanted the children to be able to have a toy kitchen in the bottom space, so we kept this clear and the shelves fairly high up.

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^^These shelves contain all of our jars of pasta, cous cous, stock cubes, lentils etc. I think they make a rather pretty display, and save on much-needed cupboard space.

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^^On the top shelf is some jewel-coloured antique glassware that used to be my Nan’s. They might look fairly modern to some, but these are actually over 100 years old!

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^^Below is the aforementioned toy kitchen! We made this for Freddie’s 2nd birthday, but now both children spend hours playing with it. You can see how we did this HERE. (It was a real labour of love, I can tell you ;-) )

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^^The mini-me’s kitchen^^

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^^I love our kitchen door- here we stick the kid’s artwork, invites, photos, thank you letters and anything else that makes us smile!

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^^Without going mad and ruining the clean look of the space, we’ve added a few other little touches that have brightened up the room and add interest.

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^^The main kitchen area. The old dividing wall is where the breakfast bar now is. There was a back door where the window is (are you following me?!), and we kept the old Ikea sink but moved it so it is now under the window. The units are all from Howdens, so the overall kitchen cost was brought down rapidly. The work-surfaces are faux wood, something I am so glad of now. I originally wanted real wood, but Adam warned me how hard the upkeep of these can be. Reluctantly, I agreed with him, and he was right- the amount of water that gets on the worktops from various things is much more than I expected, and we would have been spending so much time oiling, cleaning and drying them, that I would be quite anxious to actually do anything on them! Maybe one day in another home…

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^^I love the reclaimed sink, as I had always wanted a Butler/Belfast style one, so totally living the dream now ;-)

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^^This is where the electrical magic happens in the Evans/Freeman kitchen! We are actually very good at making an effort to make our own bread now, and try and do 2-3 loaves a week in the bread maker (a birthday present from the children). The Kitchen Aid is possibly my 3rd baby, competing with the fridge and tumble drier as fave household appliance. It is SO worth the money, and we use it loads, it’s a baking fan’s dream come true. The kettle and toaster are self-explanatory, and probably don’t get enough credit for the good job they do in salvaging a bad day/tired morning. I love you both, please don’t ever leave me!

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^^The range cooker was actually a relative bargain buy from Currys, and as Adam and I both love cooking, the 5 hobs and double oven has come in handy many times over.

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^^Our beloved SMEG fridge! I may or may not stroke this lovingly from time-to-time ;-) This was something I had always wanted but never thought we would have, or could justify having, but thanks to a helping hand from my Mum, we felt we could then go forth and purchase! I feel it truly does ‘make’ the kitchen, and the mint green colour just ‘pops’ against the white of the units and walls. I hope to have it forever :-)

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So there you have it- one kitchen!

Do you have a favourite bit of your kitchen?

 

Teaming up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share with me!

30 Day Re-use & Recycle Wardrobe Challenge- Day 10

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Boyfriend Coat – Topshop, Blouse – Zara, Jeans – Topshop ‘Leigh’, Trainers – Superga

To see the original post and challenge rules, please click here! 

Thai-Inspired Prawn and Sweetcorn Chowder

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Since the weather has turned I’ve had a hankering for all food cosy and warming. This Thai-inspired prawn and sweetcorn chowder has been one of my most successful (in my opinion) cow dairy-free adaptations, replacing the usual cow’s juice with coconut milk, and turning this into a rather tasty and exotic weekend dish, a bit special but still so easy to do. If I close my eyes I’m almost back at Railey Beach supping on a cocktail!

You will need:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted English butter (we use goat’s butter)
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 300g frozen sweetcorn
  • 300ml Coconut Milk (I use the Alpro fresh coconut milk, but tinned is fine too)
  • 100ml single cream (or soya cream)
  • 180g pack raw peeled king prawns
  • flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, mustard and paprika and fry for about 5 mins, until softened.
  2.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir until absorbed.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the stock in batches, stirring after each addition, until smooth. Return to the heat and add the chopped potatoes.
  4.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 mins until the potatoes are tender. Add the sweetcorn and simmer for a further 5 mins.
  5.  Pour in the milk and cream, then add the prawns. Heat for about 5 mins, without boiling, until the prawns are pink and cooked through.
  6.  Stir through the parsley. Season to taste and serve.Tastes delicious with crusty bread and butter too!

Teaming up with Honest Mum’s ‘Tasty Tuesdays’